Is Baking Soda Safe for Your Skin?
Baking soda can be used for facial washes, deodorization, acne, blemishes, and more!
Edited By:Raja Sivamani , MD, MS, AP
Our skin is how we directly interact with our environment, thus it is imperative to keep our skin happy and healthy! Doing a quick search on Google, you can find HUNDREDS of skin cleansing remedies, ingredients claiming to be miracle workers, companies pushing the new “#1 product” for your skin, and diets that will lead to beautiful skin. However, we know that not all skin is created equal; products and remedies that work for some may have completely opposite results for yourself, thus thorough research and careful experimentation is key!
Among these cleansing remedies and products, an ingredient claiming to have versatile benefits to your skin happens to be a staple product in almost every household cabinet, baking soda. Several blogs and forums claim that baking soda is an amazing ingredient to use due to its accessibility, effectiveness, and price. Most commonly, consumers will mix baking soda with water to create a paste used for exfoliation, however, baking soda can also be used for facial washes, deodorization, acne, blemishes, and pigmentation. This leaves us with the question of whether baking soda is safe for your skin?
The Acid Mantle & pH
Our skin is a sensitive organ that reacts to many different factors, which explains why some products just won’t work regardless of how much you want it to. The acid mantle is the outermost layer of our skin that help protects against bacteria, infections, water loss, and all sorts of other problems. So, a healthy acid mantle equals healthy skin. Quickly reviewing pH levels, 1-6 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 8-14 is alkaline. To give a general idea of different pH levels, lemons are 2.0, tomatoes are 4.5, milk is 6.4, water is 7.0, eggs are 8.5, and bleach is 12.6. Most importantly, our skin & acid mantle lies around the 4.5 range.
Baking Soda on Our Skin
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline solution, meaning it is a basic solution with a pH of 9.0. Our skin is healthiest when our acid mantle comfortably sits around the 4.5 acidic range and just as you would suspect, when applying a baking soda solution to our skin, it negatively disrupts the pH balance. An acid skin pH (4–4.5) keeps the resident good bacterial attached to the skin, whereas an alkaline pH (8–9) promotes their dispersal from the skin. Obviously, we really don’t want the normal bacterial attached to the skin to disperse because it could lead to problems like irritation, redness, acne, and dryness! On the flip side, applying a product that is too acidic, for example, lemon juice (pH ~2), will risk skin irritation, sun sensitivity, and hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin).
Understanding the complexity of our skin is really difficult, but educating yourself will save you countless hours of frustration and grey hairs! The acid mantle on our skin is healthiest when in the pH ~4.5 range, so research and pick products that don’t stray off too far from that. Picking mildly acidic (pH ~4.5) skin products might be best to clear up your skin and help you shine bright!
Use Baking Soda Safely
Baking soda might be safe for your skin. Due to baking soda’s alkaline properties, you should be careful when applying any mixture that includes this ingredient on your skin. If you are intrigued and enticed by the potential benefits of baking soda, please do research on the subject and test on a small area of skin that isn’t visible in case of a bad reaction! Baking soda has widely differing reviews online, and a medical professional should be consulted for further discussion and safer alternatives if they are needed.
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